What Is the REAL ID Act?

Important Note: In March 2020, the Department of Homeland Security pushed the REAL ID enforcement deadline to October 1, 2021 nationwide due to the COVID 19 coronavirus pandemic. Please see https://bmv.ohio.gov/newdl-id/ for the most up-to-date information.

Formulated in the wake of September 11 and passed by Congress in 2005, the REAL ID Act was passed to “set standards for the issuance of sources of identification, such as driver’s licenses.”

The Act established minimum security standards for state-issued driver’s licenses and identification cards, and it prohibits federal agencies from accepting licenses and identification cards from states that do not meet these standards for official purposes.

It was aimed at eliminating airline terrorism by increasing requirements to obtain documents granting access to domestic planes.

State agencies that issue licenses and identification cards, like the Department of Motor Vehicles, require more paperwork regarding proof of residency and Social Security Number under the new act than necessary to obtain standard licenses.

In addition, the cards themselves will also be built using new technology, making them much more difficult to forge.

It has taken the federal government nearly 15 years to implement the act fully — a gradual process that has been met by some confusion as each state has a different status. However, all states will need to be in compliance by October 1, 2021.

We know a lot of you are concerned that you will lose the ability to fly, drive or vote as a result of the REAL ID Act, but this isn’t the case. You can continue to use your regular license or identification to do drive and vote without obtaining a REAL ID. In order to fly domestically, you will either need to provide an alternate form of TSA-approved ID or obtain a REAL ID. To fly internationally, you will always need a passport.

What Does It Mean For Me?

Airports are considered federal facilities, and therefore this act affects your ability to enter them in order to board your flight.

Starting October 1, 2021, every state and territory resident will need to present a REAL ID-compliant license/ID or another acceptable form of identification (like a passport or passport card) for accessing federal facilities — including boarding commercial aircraft.

Most states and territories have already begun issuing the new licenses, so you will have until October 1, 2021 to obtain a REAL ID compliant license. So just check your license to be sure.

Beginning October 1, 2021, the federal government will no longer consider standard driver licenses and identification cards as sufficient forms of identification for air travel. TSA will require a federally compliant driver license, identification card or another acceptable form of identification (such as a US passport or military ID) to fly within the U.S.

Go to bmv.ohio.gov/newdl-id/ for more details.